Why Alabama will (or won’t) win the College Football Playoff

No. 1 Alabama enters the College Football Playoff with an 11-0 record and a chance to win its sixth national championship under Nick Saban.  

The Crimson Tide have been a CFP regular and they are heavy favorites against No. 4 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, which was relocated to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  

Here is a closer look at Alabama’s playoff history, and the reasons why the Crimson Tide will (or won’t) win a national championship in 2020:  

MORE: College Football Playoff isn’t fair, but don’t blame teams who made it

Alabama’s College Football Playoff history  

Alabama is making its sixth College Football Playoff appearance. The Crimson Tide missed the Playoff in 2019, which broke a five-year streak. Alabama made the CFP championship game in four straight seasons from 2015-18, and it won national championships in 2015 and 2017.  

2014 1 Lost to No. 4 Ohio State 42-35
2015 2 Beat No. 3 Michigan State 38-0, Beat No. 1 Clemson 45-40
2016 1 Beat No. 4 Washington 24-7, Lost to No. 2 Clemson 35-31
2017 4 Beat No. 1 Clemson 24-6, Beat No. 3 Georgia 26-23
2018 1 Beat No. 4 Oklahoma 45-34, Lost to No. 2 Clemson 44-16
2020 1 vs. No. 4 Notre Dame

This is the fourth time the Crimson Tide is No. 1 in the CFP rankings. They failed to win the national championship the last three times.  

Alabama vs. Notre Dame odds 

The Crimson Tide are 17.5-point favorites in their semifinal matchup with Notre Dame, according to the William Hill sportsbook. The teams last met in the 2013 BCS championship game. Alabama won, 42-14.  

Why Alabama will win national title  

The Crimson Tide have the top-ranked scoring offense in the playoff at 49.7 points per game, and the combination of Mac Jones (3,739 yards, 32 TDs, 4 INTs), Najee Harris (1,588 total yards, 27 TDs) and DeVonta Smith (1,511 yards, 17 TDs) continue to overwhelm opponents. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian continues to weave creative offensive game plans, and there is even a chance star receiver Jaylen Waddle returns. The defense – led by All-American cornerback Patrick Surtain – also improved in the second half of the season. That should be enough against Notre Dame, and Alabama matches up well against the winner of the Clemson-Ohio State matchup. That should be enough for Nick Saban to win a historic seventh national championship; which passes Bear Bryant for the all-time lead.  

Why Alabama won’t win national title  

The Crimson Tide could get caught in a shootout with either Clemson (44.5 ppg.) or Ohio State (42.5 ppg.) or even Notre Dame (35.2 ppg.). In games against Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Florida, the Crimson Tide allowed 39.3 points and 374 passing yards per game. Jones will be up against elite quarterbacks in those playoff games, and all it takes is a few ill-timed turnovers in those games. Center Landon Dickerson will also miss the playoff after suffering a season-ending knee injury. That is a major loss for the offense. Alabama has a combined playoff record of 2-3 against Clemson and Ohio State. A national championship cannot be taken for granted.  

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